If you’re looking for a nice, easygoing summer movie that will reaffirm your faith in the basic goodness of humanity, then this is definitely not the movie for you. Oliver Stone’s films are always derived from the dark inner recesses of his own twisted soul (he recently admitted he was “crazy”) and Savages carries this legacy forward.
The story is of three friends named O (as in Ophelia), Chon, and Ben (Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson) in Southern California who run a highly lucrative drug business. When wind of their success reaches south of the border, the so-called “queen” of the Mexican drug cartel (Salma Hayek) insists that they become partners. After all, why should she not profit from someone else’s success?
When they decline her offer, the “reina” Elena hatches a plot to drive a wedge between the friends and find her way to control their drug business: she kidnaps O and threatens to behead her if she is not given a controlling interest in the business. Elena’s henchman Lado (Benicio Del Toro) is a subhuman being who serves his queen without question.
Then there is Dennis, the DEA played by John Travolta, who one presumes is on the side of Ben and Chon but may actually be working with Elena and Lado. Most fascinating of all, however, is the relationship between Elena and O. This is one movie that actually dares to look into the evils of femininity without blinking. Kudos to Stone for that.
Ultimately, the story becomes about the negotiations between the two sides that elicit the worst in everyone: in the hands of any other director, this would have been a tale of good vs. evil. In the hands of Oliver Stone, it is essentially the story of Evil vs. Depraved Evil. There are deeper and more monstrous gradations of Evil, Stone is none to shy to share, and that is what makes human beings so utterly savage.